Animals have played a significant role when it comes to coping with the uncertainty and restrictions of COVID-19, but the world has seemingly shifted for furry friends and those who care for pets as well.
From busy waiting rooms to limited access – clinics in Aldergrove are struggling to keep up with demand.
Tammy Timperley, practice manager of Aldergrove Animal Hospital, has been in the industry since 2003 in various roles.
“My love of animals is what got me interested in the industry and once I became a part of it, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else,” she said. “It gives me the opportunity to help both people and animals.”
Typically, an early start at 7 a.m. to get the clinic up and running, admit surgical cases for the day, and prep the team on the appointments, is how Timperley kicks off her day.
“We have one doctor doing our surgeries in the morning while the other sees appointments,” Timperley explained. “Both see appointments and each doctor has a team including a registered technician, a veterinary assistant, and a client service representative to work with.”
On top of everything, pets are coming in for nail trims, blood work, and medical treatments while the reception team takes care of four busy phone lines while maintaining the hospital supply stock.
COVID-19 has also made sterilization a major priority while the amount of people going in and out of the clinic has changed so safe distances can be maintained.
“Our exam rooms are not large enough for proper social distancing and our team is not big enough to keep up with the intense cleaning required after appointments so we have been operating in a curbside [and] drop off fashion since March,” Timperley noted.
Assistants have been checking pets in the parking lot and stand in place of the owner for the exam.
The doctor then follows up over the phone or at a distance in the parking lot.
“It has been a challenge for sure,” the vet admitted. “We are a small group as it is and from March to June we split our team into two groups to reduce further exposure and to ensure that if one group had been exposed the others could keep the clinic up and running while they recovered.”
While the system has been reducing client contact, Timperley was quick to point out that it’s been hard to keep up – assuring that the amount of critters coming for a check-up has been immensely higher than usual.
“We have seen an absolutely unreal amount of pets coming in since the beginning of COVID,” Timperley assured. “Maybe people are adopting new pets, having them out socializing more and requiring updated vaccines, or more injuries and illnesses from being outdoors more than usual.”
She figures people are spending more time at home these days, so they are noticing things that they may not have before such as their senior pet maybe sleeping more than normal, or not eating their usual meals as quickly as they used to.
But Timperley understands why people are being cautious with four-legged family members; COVID has led to an increase in people’s time and connection with animals.
“The human-animal bond has always been very apparent but it’s been crystal clear this year just how many people truly receive comfort and support from their pets in stressful times,” Timperley noted.
She said more clients have been telling the clinic just how much they depend on their pet to be that constant in their lives when everything else is changing so often.
“Being stuck at home has gotten more people up and moving with their pets so we are seeing and hearing success stories of weight loss from quite a few,” Timperley added.
As far as tips to keep pets healthy and wait times down at the clinic, she advised people to keep their distance, wash their hands or carry sanitizer and a mask for stopping at the dog park.
“Get out with your pet for walks! Tackle a do-it-yourself ‘catio enclosure’ for your indoor cat to enjoy. Stay home and bake homemade pet friendly treats,” Timperley suggested.
There are several clinics that service the town including Country Grove, South Fraser, Fairview, and the Aldergrove Animal Hospital.
“The area has seen a huge amount of growth with new homes going up in the area over the past few years,” Timperley said. “While we may be busier than normal I think we are able to share the extra work and meet the needs of the Aldergrove community quite well.”
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